Being a mother is something that has been portrayed differently over the years, it has been shown as something women have to do, something that causes them to be judged, it’s a concept of which the true meaning has been lost throughout the years of confusion. The dictionary definition of ‘mother’ is “a woman in relation to her child or children.” However, there is no one meaning when talking about motherhood, it is different for every parent. I spoke to a variety of women; some have had one child, some more than others and one who is expecting her first. Despite differences, they all had a very similar opinion when it came to their meaning of being a mother.
“Being a mother means being that person who is always there for you no matter what.”
“It means loving that child unconditionally”
“Doing everything you can to protect that child from what awaits them in the future”.
When you really get into the idea of motherhood, it comes down to emotion, it’s more than just a physical connection with another human being, it means being able to connect on another level and experiencing more love that anyone could have ever imagined.
One of the biggest parts of society that affects mothers, whether they are new to the job or not, is social media. Social media is constantly challenging their perspectives of themselves as a parent. Whether that being their age, their financial situation or their bodies. A lot of negative views seem to be publicized rather than the positive. I asked mothers how young mums in particular are portrayed in the media and I got some harsh responses. Most answered with how they are shown to be “money grabbers” and people that “do not care about their children” and “have their priorities wrong”. All of these viewpoints are very active within the media, not only in the news but also in television and other entertainment platforms. Television shows, especially soaps, often show young mothers “neglecting their children in favour of going out partying, when in reality, this is not likely to happen.” — Tara Rutledge
It’s using the characteristics from this stereotype to create entertainment, but in reality, the way it affects young mothers is drastic. Often leading to depression in a lot of women, from some of the comments and judgment they receive from people, that often they do not even know.
The media plays a big part in judgment of a woman’s duty as a mother and even the way they look. Body shaming has become a regular occurrence in today’s society and it’s a shame that a platform that should be used to share happy moments, is being used to tear mother’s self esteem. Motherhood can bring such a struggle anyway, so why would someone want to judge a woman on whether or not “we’ve not had the chance to shower or wash our hair, or even put make up on. When your baby is up all night crying, or when we are crying because we have post natal depression or are just desperate for 5 minutes sleep.” Being a mother means giving up those small necessities to be able to do anything and everything for that little human.
Body shaming is a key factor in attitudes towards women. Especially new mothers when they haven’t “slimmed down into my size zero jeans a week later”. Expecting a woman to put her body through such a stressful thing and then go back to ‘normal’ is a lost concept. You see so many body confidence posts on social media and posts about how it’s okay to be who you are. Why isn’t this the same for mothers? The female body is so sexualized; it is pushed to its limits and struck down. This is present when breast-feeding comes into conversation. How can it be okay for a woman to be sexualized and used as an object, but when that object becomes a source of food for another human being, it is no longer acceptable in society? In British culture people are so prudish towards a woman’s breast out in public, but it’s acceptable to be seen in an advert on the television. It brings back the idea of sexualisation of the female body and how breasts are treated as decorative rather than for maternal uses.
In public today, breast-feeding is linked to the feelings of embarrassment. “Why should you feel embarrassed for feeding your baby, you’re giving him his lunch.” — Shannon Johnson. It’s not provocative. It’s not revealing yourself in public. It should definitely not be hidden from children, when it is completely natural.
Being a mother comes with so many negative emotions and views from other people. When “being a mother is about the bond between you and your little one.” A stand needs to be made, women should be able to do what they want with their bodies and appreciate what they have done. Being a mother is not an easy task and it’s a job that never ends. This is just a touch upon the things that mothers have to go through, with the media, with expectations and other big issues other than breast-feeding. There is not enough time in the world to explain how these women are feeling. Just appreciate that everyone has a mother, are you treating other people the way you should be treating your mother? Despite all of these negative attitudes, I’m sure people can agree, it must be one of the most rewarding jobs out there.